July 11, 2011
[ONE // nearly 20 big ten football players tabbed for top national awards]
With the 2011 season just a few month away, watch lists for several national awards are being announced and the Big Ten appears prominently on these lists. Seventeen Big Ten student-athletes were named to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's top player, and the Bednarik Award, earned by the country's top defensive standout. Ten Big Ten players appear on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which conference standouts have claimed on 14 occasions, most recently when Penn State running back Larry Johnson was honored in 2002. Seven Big Ten standouts appear on the watch list for the Bednarik Award, which has been earned by conference stars seven times since the award was created in 1995. Those seven winners include two-time winners Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern (1995-96) and Paul Posluszny of Penn State (2005-06). Nittany Lions linebacker Dan Connor was the Big Ten's most recent honoree in 2007. Click here to view all 17 honorees.
[TWO // return of the mack-ey]
Seven Big Ten players have been named to the 2011 Mackey Award preseason watch list as announced this past Wednesday. The Mackey Award, handed out annually since the 2000 season, is given to the top tight end in the country. Representing the Big Ten on the watch list are Indiana's Ted Bolser, Michigan's Kevin Koger, Michigan State's Brian Linthicum, Minnesota's Eric Lair, Nebraska's Kyler Reed, Northwestern's Drake Dunsmore and Ohio State's Jake Stoneburner. The conference has reeled in three Mackey Awards since the accolade's inception. Purdue's Tim Stratton won the inaugural award in 2000, while Iowa's Dallas Clark followed in 2002 and Minnesota's Matt Spaeth earned the honor in 2006.
[THREE // catch these honorees]
Nine Big Ten players are featured on the preseason watch list for the 2011 Biletnikoff Award, given to the top receiver in the country. Illinois' A.J. Jenkins, Indiana's Damarlo Belcher, Iowa's Marvin McNutt, Michigan's Roy Roundtree, Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham, Minnesota's Da'Jon McKnight, Northwestern's Jeremy Ebert, Ohio State's DeVier Posey and Penn State's Derek Moye each earned recognition on the 75-player list. Four Big Ten players have won the award since the inaugural laurel was handed out in 1994. Penn State's Bobby Engram took home the honor in its first year, while Ohio State's Terry Glenn followed in 1995, Michigan State's Charles Rogers won the award in 2002 and Michigan's Braylon Edwards received the trophy in 2004.
[FOUR // getting their kicks]
Four Big Ten players have been chosen to the 2011 Groza Award preseason watch list as announced this past Thursday. The Groza Award is given annually to the top placekicker in the nation and has honored two Big Ten players since the first award in 1992. Illinois' Derek Dimke, Indiana's Mitch Ewald, Michigan State's Dan Conroy and Wisconsin's Philip Welch highlight the watch list, which features 30 players. Ohio State's Mike Nugent was the last Big Ten kicker to reel in the award, earning the honor in 2004, while Iowa's Nate Kaeding received the accolade in 2002.
[FIVE // michigan already getting the best of nebraska]
Staying on the gridiron, Michigan has already bested newly-inducted Nebraska in football. Over the past few weeks, ESPN’s SportsNation and EA's "NCAA Football Traditions" have been taking college football’s greatest traditions, squaring them off against one another, and letting the fans decide which tradition is the best of them all. In a semifinal matchup last week, Michigan’s “Go Blue Banner” topped Nebraska’s “Tunnel Walk” by a 55-45 margin in the voting. So now the Wolverines’ pre-game tradition, which was seeded 11th overall, will battle No. 4 seed Florida State's Chief Osceola and Renegade in the championship round. The winning school will receive hundreds of free copies of EA's "NCAA Football 12" game courtesy of SportsNation and EA Sports.
[SIX // other schools playing nice with our new friends]
The Big Ten Conference prides itself on the great sportsmanship that is displayed both on and off the field by its schools, coaches, and student-athletes. In last week’s “This Week in the Big Ten,” we noted that Penn State dressed in Cornhusker red and participated in a Nebraska-themed golf outing in State College to welcome our new friends to the conference. Making the rounds on Twitter this past week was a picture of another kind gesture from a conference colleague, this time from the other “N” school – Northwestern. Yes, this is a picture of 12 full-size cookie cakes representing each Big Ten school, including the Huskers, that the Wildcats sent to their new conference foe. Nicely done Willy!
[SEVEN // “wisconsin the nebraska of the north?”]
If you think the Northwestern cookies were a funny gesture, wait until you get a load of one of Nebraska’s biggest – and funniest – fans. Dan Whitney, who is known around the country as funny country boy Larry the Cable Guy, recently sat down with Randy York of Huskers.com to talk about everything from his new movie (Cars 2) to Nebraska’s inclusion to the Big Ten Conference. Among the highlights of the tongue-in-cheek interview was when Whitney was asked if he would show up at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium for Nebraska’s very first Big Ten football matchup and barge into the (Barry) Alvarez Suite and “congratulate (Nebraska legend) Bob Devaney's foremost understudy for ‘Gittin'R'Done’ and making the College Football Hall of Fame?” Whitney’s response? “I would but I'm not allowed in Camp Randall for two more years. Long story, and it involves no pants and a tattoo of Herbie. (just kidding) I think Barry is awesome. He's why their uniforms look just like ours. Deep down inside, he knows that we're the real Big Red. That's why everyone calls Wisconsin the Nebraska of the North. Besides, all roads to the Hall of Fame go through Coach Devaney and Lincoln.” And so it begins!!! It looks like Nebraska and all its Cornhusker fans will fit right in as the Big Ten has some of the most passionate fans in all of college athletics.
[EIGHT // from student sparty to coach sparty]
Congratulations and welcome back to Casey Lubahn, who has been named head men’s golf coach at Michigan State. The former MSU letterwinner and assistant coach has left his position as Miami University's head coach to become the 10th head coach in Spartan history. Prior to accepting the head coaching position at Miami, Lubahn spent three seasons as an assistant coach at MSU, fulfilling the role for the 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons. During his tenure, he helped lead the Spartans to the 2005 and 2008 Big Ten Championships. His last season at Michigan State, Lubahn was a finalist for the GCAA Jan Strickland Award, which is awarded to the NCAA Division I Assistant Coach of the Year. A three-year letterwinner and 2003-04 captain of the Michigan State golf program, Lubahn finished his career with the fifth-lowest career stroke average (75.00) in program history.
[NINE // no small feat]
Speaking of Big Ten men’s golf coaches, congratulations to Illinois mentor Mike Small, who earned a sixth-place finish at this past week’s PGA Professional National Championship, which earned him his seventh PGA Championship appearance and 10th overall appearance at a major championship. The finish also put Small on another PGA Cup team, where he will represent the United States against Great Britain and Ireland, Sept. 16-18, at CordeValle in Northern California. Small posted rounds of 67-71-69-72 for a four-round total of 6-under par 279, five strokes behind the lead.
[TEN // retiring with honors]
The Big Ten also extends its congratulations to recently retired Penn State Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Sue Delaney-Scheetz, who was recently named a 2011 NACWAA Administrator of the Year award recipient. After 29 years at Penn State, Delaney-Scheetz retired from her post on March 31, 2011. Delaney-Scheetz won two national championships as head coach of the Nittany Lions' women's lacrosse team. During her time as an administrator, Penn State women's teams won four NCAA championships, 46 regular season Big Ten titles, and 11 conference tournament crowns. Penn State also won three combined national titles in fencing during her time as SWA. The Administrator of the Year Award, sponsored by Jostens, is presented annually to NACWAA members for significant contributions made as administrators in intercollegiate athletics.
[ELEVEN // a legendary gymnast, a legendary coach]
Finally this week, Michigan, Minnesota and the Big Ten were saddened to learn of the passing of an iconic conference gymnastics figure in Dr. Newt C. Loken. He was 92. Loken was an All-America gymnast at Minnesota in 1942 and later went on to become the architect of Michigan men's gymnastics team, which he coached for 36 years. As a Gopher, Loken was a team captain and a two-time Big Ten All-Around Champion in 1941 and 1942. He won an NCAA individual title on the horizontal bar in 1941 and the all-around championship in 1942. In 1947, Loken was named to the head post of the Michigan gymnastics program, a job he held for 36 years. During that time, he guided the Wolverines to two NCAA team championships (1963, 1970) and 12 Big Ten championships. He coached 71 Big Ten individual event winners and 21 NCAA individual champions.